The Moment

6|1|10: Nashville

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Al Gore has many abilities; shocking the heck out of people was not considered one of them. Yet there it was, like a watermelon falling out of an oak tree. In a leaked e-mail to friends, Al and wife Tipper--whose lascivious smooch on the 2000 campaign trail is etched in the public memory like an awkward childhood experience--announced they "have decided to separate" after 40 years of wedlock, a duration so robust that most statisticians will still count the Gores' marriage as a success. The couple gave no reason, and the National Enquirer has not uncovered any of the usual suspects, which makes the split all the more puzzling. What on earth happened? Having nursed their son through a near fatal accident, endured four presidential campaigns, invented the Internet, tried to clean up popular music and stop global warming--having slogged through, in other words, all the hard stuff--now the high school sweethearts decide they just can't do this anymore? The only thing more unsettling is the fact that of all the high-profile couples of the past two decades, it's the Clintons who are still together.